HCMC revives plan to collect downtown toll

By Gia Minh   October 29, 2021 | 06:00 pm PT
HCMC revives plan to collect downtown toll
A heavy traffic jam at the crossroad of Vo Van Tan and Cao Thang streets in HCMC's District 3 in 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa
HCMC is reviving a project to collect tolls from cars entering the downtown area as part of efforts to reduce traffic congestion and promote public transportation.

Implementing the plan will cost a total VND2.274 trillion (more than $100 million). The money will be spent on building a closed corridor surrounding the two downtown districts of 1 and 3, according to a report submitted to the city administration by the transport department.

The latest move is based on a proposal made by the ITD Corporation, a city-based tech firm. The proposal is that the department carries out the project under the build, lease, transfer (BLT) form, a type of the public–private partnership (PPP) investment model where in a private contractor builds (and finances) a project on behalf of a public sector partner (or client) and then leases the project back to the client for a predetermined period.

The tollgates, as planned, will go up on existing roads and sidewalks and there will be no site clearance required. The entire toll collection system will be operated by one operation center.

The transport department has asked its planning-investment counterpart to consult the municipal administration on guiding ITD with necessary procedures.

Back in 2010, HCMC had already approved in principle an ITD proposal to implement a project to collect downtown toll from cars.

Two years later, a complete proposal was submitted to the administration for a VND1.2-trillion project to establish 36 automatic tollgates with CCTV cameras along routes surrounding the city’s center.

However, the project was put on hold after countering opposition from the public and experts.

In 2019, the Transport Department revived the project, proposing 34 downtown tollgates and picking the city’s Urban Transport Management Center as the main investor. That proposal was not acted upon.

Then, last year, the city approved the department’s master plan to promote public transportation and control private vehicle flow in the city.

The department said for the master plan to succeed, the city needs to start applying downtown toll on cars as soon as this year so as to limit the number of private vehicles in the area as well as ease its traffic gridlock problem.

As per official data, HCMC had 8.4 million registered vehicles as of mid-September, including more than 806,000 cars and around 7.6 million motorbikes, up 3.8 and 3.3 percent respectively against the same period last year.

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